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GENEVA, May 8 (MENA) - The World Health Organization said on Friday that global solidarity is critical to fight COVID-19, which is what was displayed in the global battle to eradicate smallpox 40 years ago, China Daily reported.
The World Health Assembly officially declared that "the world and all its people have won freedom from smallpox" on May 8, 1980. Smallpox is the first and, to date, only human disease to be eradicated globally.
"Its eradication stands as the greatest public health triumph in history," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual news conference in Geneva.
Until it was wiped out, smallpox had plagued humanity for at least 3,000 years, killing 300 million people in the 20th century alone, according to the WHO.
"As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity's victory over smallpox is a reminder of what is possible when nations come together to fight a common health threat," Tedros said.
The WHO is now working with many partners to accelerate the development of a vaccine for COVID-19, which will be an essential tool for controlling transmission of the virus, according to the WHO.
"But although a vaccine was crucial for ending smallpox, it was not enough on its own," Tedros said. "The decisive factor in the victory over smallpox was global solidarity."
Tedros noted that, at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States joined forces to conquer a common enemy.
"They recognized that viruses do not respect nations or ideologies," he said. "That same solidarity, built on national unity, is needed now more than ever to defeat COVID-19."